Driving tests

Removing demerit points and how long they stay on your licence

Demerit points are given for various traffic offences such as:

  • Some alcohol-related infringements and offences (e.g. courts might allocate demerit points if a disqualification is less than 6 months)
  • Having an alcohol reading between 250-400mg/litre of breath, or between 50-80mg/100ml of blood.
  • Breaching licence conditions (e.g. driving unaccompanied as a learner driver, or driving with unauthorised passengers as a restricted driver)
  • Driving without a warrant of fitness, registration or number plate
  • Driving without L plates if you are a learner driver
  • Breaking road rules such as not giving way
  • All speeding infringements except those recorded by speed camera.

How many demerits do you need before you are disqualified?

The maximum number of demerit points for one single offence is 50, which you will get for most alcohol-related offences, or exceeding the speed limit by more than 35kph. If you commit more than one offence, the demerit points can be stacked.

The fewest number of demerit points you will get is 10 for a minor speeding infraction, driving in an emergency stopping lane or producing a logbook with between 1-5 omissions. If you have had logbook demerit points previously, try this online logbook training course to teach you the correct way of filling it out.

Once you get to 50 demerit points you will receive a letter of warning.

If you accumulate 100 or more demerit points in any two-year period you will get a three-month driver licence suspension. This means you won’t be allowed to drive. The suspension period starts as soon as the suspension notice is served to you by NZTA (or an authorised agent), or the police.

You must reinstate your licence!

After your suspension ends you will be unlicenced and you need to reinstate it. If you’ve been disqualified for more than 12 months you will have to take your driving test again.

How long do demerit points stay on your licence?

Demerit points stay active on your driver licence for two years from the date that they were issued to you. It used to be that they would not expire until you had had two years free of receiving any demerit points, but now if you get points in February and points in May, the February points will expire three months earlier than the May points.

However, if you are disqualified for a period of six months or more, any active demerit points are cancelled.

How do you know how many demerit points you have?

You can call the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) on 0800 822 422 and apply to obtain the following:

  • Demerit Points and Suspension History Report: the details of any demerit points or demerit point suspensions which have been recorded on your licence record within the last seven years
  • Demerit Point Summary: a printout of any active demerit points recorded on your driver licence record.  Active demerit points are points for offences incurred within the last two years or are points for which the licence holder is currently suspended.

NZTA may charge for this service.

Can you still drive if you are disqualified?

If a disqualification would cause you or your family undue hardship you might be eligible for a limited licence. This will permit you to drive in limited circumstances, e.g. driving too and from work. You will need to contact a lawyer to see if you qualify.


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Darren has written over 3000 articles about driving and vehicles, plus almost 500 vehicle reviews and numerous driving courses. Connect with him on LinkedIn by clicking the name above

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